Tale of the Two-Minute Job

Over almost forty-five years of wedded bliss (work with me here), my Beloved and I have cultivated a symbiotic relationship. There are numerous facets to this symbiosis, one of which is (1) I break things, (2) I attempt to fix them and (3) he eventually follows up by fixing them correctly. Amid a multitude of missteps, this is a dance we’ve perfected through the years.Handyman_Tools

While he was still in graduate school, we repainted the house we were renting. Since he’d done house-painting full-time during summer breaks, he knew the tricks of the trade (unlike me). When repainting began, I offered to help. As a can-do person, I naturally believed I could assist … I mean, you have a paintbrush and some paint … you slip the brush into the bucket, drench the bristles and slap paint on the wall. It’s not rocket science, right?!

In short order, I was demoted from painting most surfaces and given the task to paint louvered doors. Ugh! Eventually, that task was taken from me as well. Ever since, I’ve been banned from wielding a paintbrush.

… But I’m the kid who assisted my daddy whenever he had a job around the house. Granted, I was mainly there to hold the flashlight or keep the ladder steady or fetch another tool from the basement workbench, but I was his assistant! My experience didn’t qualify me as an expert, but more practice was all I needed in order to attain weekend handyman, er, handy-woman status (so I thought). Continue Reading →

Jolene Jaleen

Back in 1973, Dolly Parton released a single with the title Jolene. Though I don’t recall listening to much country music in those days, I do remember this song.

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/hlxamx

FROM: http://tiny.cc/hlxamx

Written by Parton, the lyrics chronicle the singer appealing to another woman (whose beauty was “beyond compare” and had “flaming locks of auburn hair“) not to “take her man.” Apparently, Parton has admitted the song is somewhat autobiographical. The song was subsequently recorded by multiple other vocalists through the years and sits at number 219 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (If you click over to the link, be prepared to scroll down a good bit, from 300 to 219!)

When I posted yesterday’s Jaleen (the poem), I couldn’t help but think about Jolene (the song). The lyrics floating in my head changed from Jolene, Jolene, please don’t take my man and morphed into Jaleen, Jaleen, keep the form to eight lines if you can. Having a song from the 70s rolling repeatedly around in one’s brain can be enjoyable or disconcerting. In this case, it was the latter. Jolene was not one of my favorite tunes. Continue Reading →

Father’s Joy

Throughout the years I’ve written poetry, I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with different forms. I came across a little book my younger daughter had given me for Christmas one year. The blank book isn’t really a good size for a journal but is just the perfect size for short, one-page poems!2014-09-15 21.03.15

Sure enough! I opened the small book and therein were several short poems I’d written (and forgotten about). They were all written using the same form. When the poems were originally written, this form was unfamiliar to me, but I made a notation in my Rhyming Dictionary/Poet’s Craft Book where I keep a record of forms not mentioned within the text. The information in my note is sadly incomplete. It says simply:  Jaleen (6,4,4,6 … 6,4,4,6) two stanzas, rhyme scheme abbc, addc, iambic.

No information about who originated the form, nor even a hint about the unusual name. So I decided to do a Google search today to see if additional information was available. There wasn’t much … Continue Reading →

Sunday A.M.

Our son-in-law was off dove-hunting for part of the weekend … which is why our daughter brought the children over to our house (yesterday’s post). Once the dove-hunt was finished, he came into town as well. We love our SIL; he has a good sense of humor and a strong work ethic. He loves our daughter and our grandchildren. (I’ve posted previously about him and his trip to Uganda last June, highlighting the lesson of selflessness he lived out for us.)


We’re often amused when he comes for a visit because he’s a stickler for expiration dates. When he spies something in the refrigerator or pantry with an expiration that has passed, he pulls it out to use immediately. This morning when I awoke, the first thing I smelled was the delightful aroma of fresh-baked goodies. He had located a package of Cinna-Bon Cinnamon Streusel baking mix in the pantry as well as two rounds of Cinna-Bon cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator. (All the items he chose had expired expiration dates. The baking mix had a June 2013 date on it.)

This young man is handy in the kitchen and I can’t deny I was drawn this morning to the kitchen due to the inviting smell! Funny thing is, he missed the multi-pack of Cinna-Bon cinnamon rolls I’d purchased yesterday … what I had originally intended for this morning’s breakfast.

Today’s poem, a sonnet, presents a different scenario than the one that actually played out this morning. Nevertheless, it is a picture of other early mornings – not just Sunday but other days throughout the week – when I’ve been alone in the quiet and had the luxury of gratefully contemplating the grace of God in my life. (One of those blessings is a son-in-law whose concern for expiration dates allows us the freedom to ignore same!)

Prayers At Dawn, morning, sonnet, poetry, poem

Prayers At Dawn



Grandkids Are So Grand

An unexpected treat today … the T-town grandchildren have come over to play! Since we have a granddaughter preparing to celebrate her third birthday tomorrow, being part of the celebration was a pleasure we didn’t want to miss. So instead of ranting on one subject or another, I shall pictorially “rave” over these delightful little ones.

Granddaughter and I went “shopping” this afternoon at a vintage market. She found a pair of fancy gold lamé heels and a small handbag (with a tortoise shell closure) to her liking. Before we could get the purchases home, she had removed her tennis shoes and slipped on the heels and begged money (pennies) for the handbag. Here’s a picture of this little beauty. Check out those gold open-toe shoes; she actually has them on the wrong feet. The birthday is officially tomorrow, but she’ll likely take these fashion items to bed with her.

Miss V.

Miss V.

Then we have the three boys, G., T., and H. (who with his parents lives here temporarily). Do you know how difficult it is to get three boys to sit still and look nice for the camera?!!

T., G., and H.

T., G., and H.

2014-09-13 19.24.32

T., G., and H. again … wiggle worms!

Grandkids trump blogging every time. Just look at them! Would you writing … or playing cowboys and indians and dress-up? I’m choosing the latter.


My dear mother was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. (I posted about her recent hospital stay here.) During her time in stir (as it were), she was poked and prodded and put through the usual battery of tests. Considering her recent 88th birthday, hospital staff operate with the standard presumption that she’s lost her wits, so she’s quizzed by everyone who enters her room:  “What’s today’s date? What year is it? What are the names of your children?” She’s usually very patient with the questions, answers them compliantly, but quickly makes known her desire to be at home. (It’s as much like prison for her as it could be … which is why I described her being in stir.)hospital-patient-elderly

Mom is used to the hospital routine because before her blindness set her back, she’d been a long-term hospital volunteer. (She loved it!) Additionally, her history of past TIAs and hospital stays due to DVT has made her familiar with some of the staff and several of the physicians.

When she and I finally had a chance to talk by phone (in between repeated interruptions of hospital personnel coming in to speak with her), she told me she’d actually been sitting in her doctor’s office (for a routine visit) when nonsense word salad poured forth from her lips. The doctor observed for a bit and then excused herself to consult a nearby neurologist. Soon thereafter, Mom was checked into the hospital.

Because of her blindness, the normal hospital television remote is a challenge for Mom. She can’t see well enough to watch the programs, so the noise coming from it bothers her. When she thinks she’s pushing the “Off” button, she’s actually hitting the “Call” button, unintentionally summoning every nurse on the floor to race toward her room! (Apparently, this happened more than once during her short stay!) There’s another down-side for my mom in connection with the “Call” button:  if she really needed help, she’d likely have trouble finding the right button! These are the kinds of challenges from blindness she’s encountered over the last five years.

Continue Reading →

The Gift Nobody Longs For

The anniversary of 9/11 … there are few people in the country unaware of the significance of this date. I touched on the anniversary in a post earlier this month and there are media presentations and blog posts aplenty to commemorate this day, so I won’t presume an ability to outshine them. I simply pay tribute to the heroes, both men and women, who ran toward danger. I honor their courage and heroism.pain-logo

The human mind has an amazing facility to distance itself (almost immediately) from horrific events. Yes, we remember where we were on certain dates, what we were doing, and specifically, how awful we felt watching the drama of 9/11 unfold before our eyes, but our minds are driven to minimize painful details. When it comes to the 9/11 attack, a paternalistic media abets the mind’s intense inclination to forget; they mostly refused to replay any videos related to that day.

In my view, pain – even the pain of unpleasant events being replayed – is important. I’m reminded of a book Philip Yancey wrote back in 1977 titled Where Is God When It Hurts? Yancey related his experiences in a leper colony where people suffering from leprosy lost their normal ability to feel pain. Absent the natural ability to feel pain, their bodies deteriorated and became distorted. As Yancey described the diseased people with whom he worked, he asserted that pain is a gift from God, part of the way we were created and terribly important to our survival. Continue Reading →

Mother Love

An email from my sister this evening informed me my mom’s in the hospital tonight.TIA-image

Sometime during the 1970s, Mom had a stroke. I use the word sometime because when it happened, she didn’t seek medical help … not immediately and not ever. It was only during a routine physical in 1984 that the doctor asked:  “When did you have a stroke? There’s nothing in your medical history about it.

Following that physical, Mom and I talked and she told me she remembered a time when she had experienced numbness in her face and on one side of her body and she slurred her words a bit. Still, she didn’t think it was significant enough to consult a doctor or take a trip to the emergency room. Apparently, her symptoms went unnoticed by everyone else in the family.

Since I was out of the home at that point and living far away, I’m not sure whether our family members (living under the same roof) were just oblivious or whether the stroke was truly so mild, my mom convinced everyone around her that everything was fine. (Here’s a related post about that.) At the time of the stroke, I think she still had two children in high school and was occupied with the business of overseeing their lives as well as being a devoted wife to my dad. She was needed on multiple levels and as is her wont, she did what she always has:  she soldiered on. Continue Reading →

Domestic Violence

If you expect this post to be another in the long list of comments and criticisms and criminalities of a once-football player, please stay tuned. I’m going to suggest there’s another kind of domestic violence that doesn’t scandalize the masses even though it should.

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/jz7xlx

FROM: http://tiny.cc/jz7xlx

Reading the excellent September 5th post at askthebigot.com, I found myself once again dismayed at the nightmare that masquerades as the state of California! This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this lunacy. However, because I live in the middle of the country, what goes on at the margins doesn’t always earn my front-burner attention. But “The Bigot” wrote compellingly about why California’s birth certificate makeover is political correctness writ large and disastrous!

This, my friends, is domestic violence. Every boy and girl deserves to know who he or she is. We’re not just talking a name here. Who are their parents? What are the bonafides that uniquely connect them to an identity? What are the family ties and cultural underpinnings that have created that synergism of biological connectedness? Continue Reading →

Sin Management

She was three, maybe closer to four years old at the time. She spewed the words at me with all the vehemence a child that age can muster. “I Hate You! I Hate You!” I don’t remember what was the exact cause of her outburst, but I’ll never forget the scene. Naturally, I was stunned, pierced to the heart and momentarily dumbstruck!Mandy1978

My firstborn daughter, the precious child I loved, had rejected me. Her words were unexpected and devastating to me, her mom-in-training. How could anything so vile have come from the mouth of this sweet, sunshiny little lady?! I can’t recall exactly how I handled the situation. I think I may have walked away, retreating to some other area of the house to nurse my wounded ego.

Eventually, though, as I reflected on the incident, I realized several things. First of all, her declaration of hate was a normal occurrence for children her age. Second, I recognized she had no real understanding what hate actually is. Third, I had my first thunderbolt realization that parenting children is never intended to be a popularity contest. Whether she hated me or not, I was responsible to parent her properly and sometimes that meant I’d prevent her from doing something she wanted to do.

The next time she uttered those words, I responded by telling her, “I don’t care if you hate me or not. You’re going to mind me anyway.” And that was that. Whatever power she thought she had over me became ineffective and she had to resort to other childlike methods to cow me. (As I became a more savvy parent, she found her wiles less and less effective.)

Continue Reading →

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